Blockbuster 3-Team Trade Proposal Reunites Bulls with $140M All-Star

Chicago Bulls

Getty Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat reacts

Before the postseason even ended, the Chicago Bulls were being urged to pursue Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler by the crew from ESPN’s “Keyshawn, J-Will, and Max”. The Bulls’ former franchise cornerstone was in the middle of some controversy following a sideline blowup with head coach Eric Spoelstra and teammate Udonis Haslem.

Flash forward four months and they are now being mentioned as a possible trade destination for Butler for a different reason.

Brooklyn Nets superstar Kevin Durant turned up the heat on his trade request.

The Heat have been on his list all along but a deal has been hard to come by due to the amount of compensation the Nets are rightfully seeking in return. That has left the NBA world to speculate on ways to get a deal done which brings us to Butler’s hypothetical return to Chicago.


Jimmy Butler Back to the Bulls?

This topic was part of a rabbit hole traversed by Bryan Toporek and guest Morten Jensen on the August 11 episode of “The NBA Podcast”. While trying to manufacture a way to get Durant to South Beach, Toporek and Jensen discussed part of the difficulty is Butler’s sometimes-brash personality and affinity for his current situation in Miami.

That is why Jensen suggested this Butler-to-Bulls scenario.

Bulls get:

  • Jimmy Butler

Heat get:

Nets get

The conversation addressed the issues and reservations that some other teams face in landing Durant. They also included the Cleveland Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies who would also have to weigh how depleted they would be after taking on Butler as a third team.

Trading for Butler would also be a “win-now” move, says Jensen and Toporek, making a deal with Cleveland or Memphis that much more unlikely.


Bulls Need to Win Soon

Chicago does not have the same problem as those teams, the pair argue. And Butler’s openness to any potential new situation still looms large. He’s already been traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers after falling out with teammates.

“That’s the one team that I know that he would still be open for. He still has a lot of love for that organization. And now with GarPax gone, I would definitely believe that he is very open to return – if he is to leave. I think Miami is the place he wants to be. But, if he is to leave in a trade, I think Chicago would be a place that he would be very very open to.”

After a few more attempts to find a third team to take on Butler’s contract in a Durant trade, Jensen brought the discussion back to the Bulls in regards to the former.

“That’s one of those deals where I would feel much more at ease on behalf of Butler too. Because that’s a place that he knows. There’s a much stronger certainty that he would be happy to return there. Also, the Bulls are a win-now team. It kind of fits together.”


Bulls Need Two-Way Players

The trade works financially. There is also a need for two-way players on this roster. Chicago’s “win-now” status has brought their offseason under fire. They are banking on a return to health and even better chemistry over significant roster adjustments for the third year in a row.

They are also considered a candidate for a major move at or near the trade deadline. That obviously wouldn’t preclude them from doing something of this magnitude sooner.

Especially if it means they could make a significant upgrade to their defensive profile.

“Obviously DeMar is going to be the guy that goes back just because of the salary…Miami will ask for Patrick Williams…So, ‘How far do you go?’ is probably my question here…Because you can’t give up everything. You can argue that DeMar and Jimmy are very equal right now. ”

Butler and DeRozan were both All-Stars last season.

DeRozan, 33, has been selected five times and earned a second-team All-NBA nod this past year; the third of his career. Butler, who turns 33 on September 14, has one more All-NBA and All-Star selection to his name.

The defense, playmaking, and rebounding Butler Brings offsets the loss of offense, points out Jensen.


Supporting Zach LaVine

Both Butler and DeRozan offer positional versatility. Neither player is a “three-point shooter”. But Butler’s deference, sometimes to a fault, could in turn boost LaVine who appears to be healthy following arthroscopic knee surgery.

“He’s so unselfish that it actually frees up Zach LaVine a ton because of those drives. And he’ll find him. You won’t have those late-game heroics from DeMar. But you might have a Zach LaVine that averages 32 points per game because Jimmy Butler is not a high-taxing offensive player.”

Jensen put a final stamp on his assertion.

“I love the fit there, honestly. I think if Jimmy is to be traded the Bulls would make just oodles of sense.”

Toporek agreed the fit would be good. But they also both agreed that if the Boston Celtics hold all of the cards.


Unlikely But Not Impossible

This scenario — which Jensen and Toporek admitted was in the vein of an “NBA 2K” situation — would also require the Heat to be willing to disrupt their culture that has embraced Butler back. Especially for Durant who has not been able to fully embrace a culture himself.

Durant would be heading for his fourth team in the last seven seasons. And he has said that he only wants to be in Miami if he can play with Butler among others.

DeRozan has quickly endeared himself to the city and embraced the history of the franchise.

Additionally, the Bulls have also made their entire offseason about continuity. A trade like this would be a much quicker pivot than anyone would reasonably expect given all of that. Still, the fit would be good as would the homecoming narrative.

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